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As Chris Farley has commanded: a thread about Spirit Island

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


BE NOT AFRAID

Perhaps the most anticipated spirit to come out of Jagged Earth, Starlight Seeks Its Form is, bar none, the most customizable spirit in the game. It's a personal houserule that every time you finish a game playing as them, you need to come up with a new name for the spirit, after all of your choices in how it forms.

A big part of how this customization takes place is from the three Growth choices you get each turn, with each one being relatively minor. If you take all three choices you have as a lump sum, it makes it seem much more useful. For example: lots of spirits would be perfectly happy with a growth that adds presence at range 2, gains a power card and NRG, and gets an extra card play for the turn. Course, then the problem is that you've locked off other potentialities for Starlight for this game, namely spike NRG gain and a full reclaim option. While it is possible to screw yourself out of things other spirits would call essential this way, it's not impossible to play the spirit in that event if you use your unique powers wisely.

Additionally, your innate powers are not designed with the expectation that you'll hit the thresholds for each of them every game. Slowly Coalescing Nature forces you to build an elemental specialization, one which you should heavily contour to your early power card gains (and which in turn should be built to accommodate the other spirits in play). This is not a spirit you can expect to play the same way every game, which is part of the attraction!



A big part of this is that your unique powers are built to be forgotten. Each of them only provides a single Moon, which means you can at least get Sidereal Guidance going, but the effects themselves are meant to be replaced as your spirit crystallizes. Peace of the Nighttime Sky is a nice stopgap early on, when you lack the capability to do a whole lot else with the island, but it simply does not punch hard enough to make it worth keeping, even without the Terror Level restriction.



Speaking of Moon, it's a nice element to focus on for Starlight if you lack better choices, especially seeing as Shape the Self Anew has a really strong threshold and Sidereal Guidance is a nice one to aim for early. Don't feel beholden to it, though.

I was gonna say that Shape the Self Anew is also a card you might consider holding on to if you shyed away from the Growth options for gaining powers, but then I realized that nobody needs Reclaim Half AND Reclaim All.



Speaking of, most spirits need Reclaim All in order to even come close to maintaining tempo. Starlight Seeks Its Form has no fewer than FIVE ways to reclaim cards available, three of which are Growth options that it gets to take three of each round. Do not ever feel like you're forced into that Reclaim All option, handy though it is. It is more than plausible to build Starlight without needing it, and Gather the Scattered Light of Stars is an instrumental part of that.



Here's the other card you might consider keeping all game. It's one of those "any, but use it on another spirit probably" cards that actually is completely understandable to use on yourself, given how Starlight Seeks Its Form works. It's also a great tool to have on hand if another spirit gets a dead draw, but feels more comfortable with minor powers over majors.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


It wouldn't be a Spirit Island expansion without some new colonial jackasses to crush.

Habsburg is a really interesting adversary for a few reasons. The first is that their escalation makes them drastically accelerate Town placement, and they have a lot of rules that make Towns much more mobile and hardy, at the expense of being unable to build inland Cities. This greatly rewards powers that can chunk multiple Towns in a single land at once, naturally.

The other is because this is an adversary like Sweden, where the Ravages can potentially be a lot more dangerous. While Sweden gets to add two Blight at sufficient damage, Habsburg instead gets to advance their alternate win condition. This combines with the accelerated and mobile Towns in a REALLY mean way, and discourages letting a bunch of Invaders gather for TOO long in a land... which acts as a natural check against the above strategy. This is a really tricky adversary for sure.



I haven't gotten a chance to try out adversaries yet, largely because everyone I play with is either new to the game in full, or new to the Jagged Earth spirits, but this one honestly looks like a ton of terrifying fun. Naturally, there's the big thematics/gameplay thing with the Explorers now representing hunters. And those Explorers pack a SERIOUS kick with how rapidly they come out and their bonus damage. This is an adversary where those "1 damage to each Invader" cards go from weaksauce to damn near essential, and where you can't EVER let Explorers just pile up in the corner and hope for the best.



Revealing the Coastal Lands Invader card is always a moment to watch out for in any game. It's not much, but it's a layering of multiple land types that adds pressure to already-pressured lands, and gets 3 actions a board instead of 2. Even without the Escalation benefit, that's still scary. Scotland, as an adversary, is all about making the coasts as scary as they can possibly be.

When initially revealed, the devs outright said "you'd think Ocean's Hungry Grasp would be a powerful spirit against them, and you're right, BUT." Runoff and Bilgewater definitely sounds mean as hell to Ocean, since they can no longer afford to just tides-out to dodge Ravages, but I honestly think this invader is scary to Ocean anyway. You can hit them really hard with their coastal focus, but they hit back just as hard with their huge amounts of structures.

And honestly, even if Ocean's Hungry Grasp feels comfortable taking Scotland on... that's a LOT of Coastal pain for the other spirits to deal with. You'll really want to look into long range powers or high mobility, so you can affect coasts aside from your own.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


So, you might've had an idea, but the previous spirit, as well as Fractured Days Split the Sky, are the first spirits to exceed the High complexity ranking, ending in the Very High complexity tier. Starlight Seeks Its Form is mostly there for information density and the ability to screw yourself out of viable functionality, but Fractured Days Split the Sky is absolutely deserving of the Very High complexity. And a big part of that is the Fragments of Shattered Time rule, fundamentally changing the value and utility of presence in a game.

Rather than placing Presence, most of the time when you open up your presence tracks, you do so by gaining Time. So it's entirely plausible to get your Presence tracks cleared out incredibly quickly into a game (and also not especially critical to do, given how absolutely weaksauce they are). Many of your powers expend Time, so you'll need to constantly try to gain more as the game moves on... but going for more Time cuts off some of the better resources you can get from your amazing Growth choices.

And the cool thing is that even this mess has a thematics/gameplay link too! As a spirit of day, night, and eclipses, Days is especially distant from the island compared to other spirits, which is reflected in how rarely they'll actually place Presence on the island. Each of its Growth choices is tied into a theme of either past (Sun), present (Air), or future (Moon). It's also a spirit of wide, sweeping temporal power, which is reflected in how absolutely ridiculous the powers it has are.



For example: Invader deck control. This power has such a ridiculously high cost for a reason: not only can you force total knowledge of how the invaders will act, but you can ALSO temporarily degrade their offensive for a turn, by lowering the Stage of the Invader card. This one is monstrously good when combined with Isolate effects, where you can legit just turn off the Invaders for a full card if played right.



Would you believe that this card, which makes Invaders Build AND Ravage, is the cheapest one Fractured Days Split the Sky gets? It can do a lot of good stuff, though, if used properly. If you use it in conjunction with a Defend effect, even the Build/Ravage combo can be of use for quickly destroying even unrelated Invaders!



Hey Vital Strength of the Earth, cool timestop power you have. Here's that power but better.

Flexing aside, this one is tricky to actually wield, and the reason why is really subtle: it's the Sacred Site. Remember, Fractured Days Split the Sky rarely actually places Presence on the island. Are you SURE you want to commit to a Sacred Site under those circumstances?



And finally, what is perhaps the most broken power in the game. Turning off Invader actions for an entire board is MAJOR. This does require a lot of planning though: not only do you have to decide which board is safe to take a double action from the Invaders, you also need to have Presence on those lands to move around (which can set up Absolute Stasis, HINT HINT) and you need to have 3 Time in the bank just for that. Every single power that Days has access to can either win or lose the game, depending on how masterfully it's played.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


I'm more or less out of content to discuss, I think. I could go over different scenarios, but I don't know enough about them to make real informed posts about them (except the powerups one). So instead: promo spirits! Again!

Downpour Drenches the World is the third spirit with a heavy focus on a single element, and that's great and all, but what's more neat is their unique style of gameplay from Pour Down Power Across the Island. As someone who favors spamming lots of Minor powers for thresholds each turn, I usually like to try to set each power to do as much as it can, like each one being its own little puzzle of where is most optimal to play it. This has the advantage of offloading the mental energy I need for choosing the cards in the first place, because hey, it'll probably be good SOMEWHERE. For this reason, I am completely unsuited to playing Downpour, because all of their mental energy goes into assessing the board state and going "how many use cases does each of my powers have".

I especially want to call attention to that second Growth option that discards cards. When you take that, you're acting under the assumption that at least two of your cards will not be useful for the foreseeable future. Don't be afraid of that discard either, embrace it. For Downpour Drenches the World, reclaiming cards is mostly done to get that one power you know you'll need this turn back, so you may as well get rid of all those other things so you can really go ham on placing Presence.

As fun as it might sound to spam a Major power every turn... you're not going to get more than one or two repeats from any given Major, even on a good day. Cleansing Floods is still a good power on this spirit, but you tell me when you're ever going to have 10 NRG stockpiled on this spirit. Still, even Minor powers can be good if spammed. Rain of Blood being worth 3 Fear... eh. Rain of Blood being worth 18 Fear? NOW you're talking.



In addition to the spamminess, Downpour Drenches the World has a few thematic elements. One of these is Wetlands: not only do all of its powers require or benefit from Wetlands, it can temporarily turn other lands into Wetlands with Sacred Sites. For Foundations Sink Into Mud, this is most obviously beneficial to put up a Sacred Site in one land and just hammer it with rain until every structure dies, but you can help out other spirits this way too, mostly with targeting. It also gives A Spread of Rampant Green more places for their Presence placement!



Isolate is a really powerful effect if you can spam it, especially early on. It's not super great on its own though, but the fast Explorer and Dahan push makes this an incredibly handy card for controlling positioning on the island. Lots of choices here: you can ensure that a single board gets no Explores, move Dahan over to a Defended land to counter, group up Explorers for an area attack...



The other reason why Downpour Drenches the World isn't my style is because they're a defensive spirit, but one that makes it hard for Dahan to counterattack. Their innate version of Encompassing Ward lowers counter damage, increasing the amount of Dahan a land needs to fight back, and this power pushes Dahan away. Your defense is good, but like Vital Strength of the Earth, it can't be the only thing you rely on, or you WILL get overwhelmed, and faster than you think.



Downpour Drenches the World is also very good at returning destroyed Presence to play. This gives them some clear synergy with spirits that make a habit of doing that on the regular. And of the two that come to mind (A Spread of Rampant Green, Volcano Looming High), they both have plenty of reason to repeat cards by paying their costs. It's nice how things line up like that.
 

Kalir

Do you require aid.
(whatevs)


Many players often say that it's more important to learn moving the Invaders and Dahan around than it is to learn how to block or destroy them. They're absolutely right, of course. Finder of Paths Unseen is for those who wish to pursue that philosophy of playstyle to the exclusion of all others.

First up, let's talk about that Presence track. By letting you place Presence from any adjacent space to an uncovered one, Finder of Paths Unseen allows you to customize how you run the spirit as far as elements/card plays/NRG goes with considerable ease. Don't get too excited about that, though, since Finder also uses more elements than any other spirit in the game, making use of everything except Fire and Animal. You'll need to be super judicious about your power gains and which cards you play each turn, because while you CAN trip all your innates, it requires a lot more finesse than other spirits that just spam their hand and call it good.

You also need to be more choosy about what powers you take, owing to Responsibilities to the Dead. You simply cannot spam offensive powers and hope for the best, or you will get yourself killed and cost your fellow spirits the game. Instead, you can either pick up a huge Major power to crush a giant stronghold of Invaders in one blow, or simply set up things for everyone else. And you are very good at the latter: not only does Finder of Paths Unseen have some of the best range in the game, but you can also link lands from anywhere on the board if you like, allowing other players that move things around to really put them to optimal use.



Okay, let's stop and address something right here. That text saying you get to move Invaders? THAT IS NOT NORMAL. Normally, if you're moving Invader pieces, it specifies which ones, and most of the time it means Explorers and/or Towns. Finder of Paths Unseen begins play with the ability to move Cities. That in and of itself is worth highlighting in bold red text. Being able to relocate Cities lets you freely keep the Invaders from setting up big capitals except for the lands you explicitly say they get to go to.



You're also able to move Presence around for other spirits, which is... only sort of powerful, most of the time. It helps to keep new players from overconcentrating in their lands, but new players should not be in a game with Finder of Paths Unseen. It's also good with spirits that have a hard time stretching out to further lands, or those who need to establish Sacred Sites somewhere.



As your only defensive card, you'll be tempted to play Offer Passage Between Worlds to preserve Dahan for counterattacks during Ravage. That's fine in moderation, especially as you don't have much offense on your own, but you're still losing the Blight race there. I'd mostly use it to reposition large groups of Dahan.



A nice simple method of scattering a concentrated land out. Whether you actually want to do that to the Invaders is another matter, but it's a good way of shuttering dangerous Ravages, at least.



One of the biggest limitations on Finder's movement abilities, strong as they are, is that you usually have to have some kind of stipulation on the land you're moving to. Without that, you could just force adjacency on everything and group literally all the pieces you want to in a single land. You'll still likely be able to do that, it's just going to take some brainwork to do.



This, plus the extremely disparate elements on your innates, is likely why Finder of Paths Unseen begins play with six unique powers. There's also the pressure to find a good Major power early on to hit one land as hard as you possibly can, so having extra forget fodder for that is nice. Gunning for thresholds on Major powers is hard given your extremely scattered innates, but I'd try to prioritize Air, Water, and Moon, in that order.
 
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